World Rugby said it is “examining models” for the annual Test windows from 2020 signalling a potential shake-up following reports of a new world league for national teams.
The world body is looking at “ways to inject further significance and excitement into the July and November windows and optimise the commercial model for all”, a statement said.
Currently, teams tour rival nations during the Test windows, but World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot is reportedly pushing for a 12-team annual competition, along the lines of football’s just-launched UEFA Nations League.
“I believe that the time is right and the opportunity exists to do something really impactful that injects further excitement, significance and value into international rugby between Rugby World Cups for the benefit of all,” World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said following an executive committee meeting in Sydney.
“In line with this objective, we are examining models to maximise the potential of the July and November windows… and create an annual programme of meaningful matches that will unlock new markets, attract new fans and grow commercial revenues for all, while maintaining player welfare imperatives.”
All tier-one and “several” tier-two rugby nations will now take part in discussions within a newly convened professional game committee, the statement said.
Any changes could meet opposition, with England’s Rugby Football Union — which profits greatly from hosting internationals — “perplexed” at the prospect of wholesale reforms, a spokesman told The Guardian.
© Agence France-Presse (Additional edits by Marisa Kennedy)